Directed by: Andrew Jordan
Written by: Barry J. Gillis and Andrew Jordan
Starring: Barry J. Gillis, Amber Lynn, Bruce Roach
Reviewed by: Tyler B.
Conceived by a lunatic... Hatched within a human womb.
When you set out to make your first movie and you have no money and no talent, you usually end up making a horror film. Face it, horror sells whether good or bad. And sometimes bad horror movies end up being good in that cheesy way so you're bound to have an audience for your film when finished. Some of these low-budget films have gone on to be horror classics. Just look at The Evil Dead or The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. But then on the other side there's the flicks that just go direct-to-video and we end up turning them off thirty minutes in. When venturing into the unknown charters of low-budget horror flicks you always go in expecting the worst hoping for the best. More often than not you're almost always disappointed. But once in a while we find a movie so utterly horrendous we can't help but laugh ourselves silly and recommend it to our friends. These films belong to what I like to refer to as the 'horror party' subgenre where you grab a group of friends, get absolutely hammered, and try to sit through the worst of the worst while relishing in all the cheese you see on the screen. Things, shot in and around Toronto, is the Canadian entry into this subgenre.
Doug Drake (Doug Bunston) and his wife Susan (Patricia Sadler) can't have children. Haunted by nightmares of a woman wearing a devil mask who says she has already had a baby, Doug is unsure if his wife will be okay. They've made the choice to have Susan artificially impregnated by Dr. Lucas (Jan W. Pachul). Dr. Lucas is a strange and shady fellow who secretly likes experimenting and torturing live victims. Meanwhile, Doug's brother Don (Barry J. Gillis) and and his friend Fred (Bruce Roach) head over to Doug's cabin for a visit and to enjoy a few beers. The pair find a book titled "Horror of a Thousand Ugly Brutal Cuts" and a tape recorder in the freezer containing recordings of Satanic chanting. After playing the tape, Doug appears proclaiming the noise is disturbing Susan.
Just as Doug goes to check on his wife she is experiencing extreme pain and appears to be going into labour. Her stomach rips open and she gives birth to a thing! Now the three guys are left to try and stay alive long enough to escape. The things take over the cabin and soon begin offing everyone one-by-one. Now It's up to Don and Fred to drill and saw their way out and take out as many of the ant-like things as they can and try to make sense of what the hell is happening. And to somehow bridge the story, the movie occasionally cuts to a female news anchor reading the most irrelevant news this side of Fox News off of cue cards. And as a staple of Canadian horror, the Channel 9 news anchor is played by none other than fully-clothed porn star Amber Lynn.
Things is bad. Really really bad. The film was shot on 16mm but the transfer is so horrendous it looks like really shitty Super8. Things makes Lief Jonker's Darkness look like it was shot on 16mm! And not a whole heck of a lot happens in the movie either. Don and Fred drink beers, talk complete nonsense, drink some more beers, and then the things appear. The things themselves look like giant styrofoam turds with teeth. The gore is pretty gruesome at times, with eyeballs ripped out, limbs eaten off, and abdomen-bursting things. But as bad as the film really is, I couldn't help but laugh out loud on numerous occasions. The dialogue is probably the worst I've ever heard in a film and I can't fathom how anyone would ever talk like these people, even in the movies. But because of this the dialogue is endlessly quotable. For instance, Don hits Fred in the back of the head with a sledgehammer to save his friend from a thing attack and responds with the line, "Oh, I hammered your head in. Are you alright?" Quality writing. Solidifying they have absolutely no skills as filmmakers or actors or writers, Things becomes the highway safety educational film of how not make movies. Everything that sucks about shitty movies is here in one 84 minute package. But does this mean it's just plain bad? Or can one find some kind of demented enjoyment in Things?
Well, it really depends how you watch the movie. Like I said, this is a 'horror party' movie. To get the full effect of Things you need two things: a group of friends and enough beers to kill your kidneys. Only then can you see the greatness of Things and laugh yourself silly. If you watch the movie alone and sober you will absolutely hate it. While it doesn't even come close to the what I consider the best worst movie of all time, Troll 2, at least I can proudly say we Canucks have a Canadian equivalent to rot your brain with! Crafted on a budget of around $40,000, Things can not justify or even come close to looking like or sounding like it was made for over $200. No joke. How these guys coaxed people out of their hard earned money I have no clue! The editing is worse than amateur porn. The lighting has no continuity, often changing brightness and colours from one shot to the next. The audio sounds like it was recorded in a shoebox with a Fisher Price mic. The music however gets bonus points, with the majority of the score performed on a pawn shop Casio keyboard. I have never laughed so hard as when I first heard those Casio drum beats pound out of my speakers. This is the stuff bad movies are made of! Things is the epitome of bad Canadian horror.
Up until August 22nd, 2008, the only way to see Things was on VHS if you could even find a copy. Left Field Productions in association with Cinema Sewer released a limited edition 19 and a 1/2 year anniversary edition DVD (available from the film's official website). The DVD contains a cornucopia of extras. Audio commentary, scenes from the cutting room floor, Amber Lynn behind the scenes, a Things reunion, plus many others. There's even an special feature that enables you to watch the 'party version' of Things complete with burping and farting sound effects and scrolling titles telling you to shout things out loud! My Things party can't come soon enough! Most of the extras are about as shoddy as the film itself, but I guess that adds... charm? Supposedly Barry J. Gillis has another film he made that he is releasing on DVD in 2009 called Wicked World. After watching Things will I really be able to handle another Gillis/Jordan production? We'll see...
Things earns it's place as the Worst Canadian Horror Film Ever Made and definitely defines what a cult movie really is. Released in 1989, the film has garnered a cult following by people who host Things parties and consider themselves THINGS-ites. Andrew Jordan and Barry J. Gillis have crafted a film so unfathomably bad you can't help but love it or hate it. 84 mins of mind numbing dialogue, Canadian stereotypes, hockey hair, and things! So do you think you can handle the Worst Canadian Horror Film Ever Made? Well if you think you can, grab a case of Molson Export if your South of the border, or any Canadian brew if you're a fellow Canuck, and watch Things with your friends. But I can't guarantee they will still want to be friends with you after the movie... Rent it!